IN RE THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF L.O. and D.O. HEIDI LYNN ORTMANN, Petitioner-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Plymouth County, Duane E.
mother appeals the probate court's decision denying her
request to terminate a guardianship of her minor children.
S. Vonnahme of Vonnahme Law, P.C., Sioux City, for appellant.
Bauerly Langel of Trotzig & Bauerly, P.L.C., LeMars, and
Jenny L. Winterfeld of Winterfeld Law, P.L.C., Sioux Center,
W. Kertels, Sioux City, guardian ad litem.
Considered by Mullins, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.
mother appeals the district court's decision denying her
request to terminate the guardianship of her minor children.
The mother claims the district court improperly refused to
apply the parental preference, violated her fundamental right
to parent, and applied the incorrect burden of proof. We find
the district court properly found the parental preference had
been weakened or eliminated, did not violate the fundamental
right to parent, and determined the correct burden of proof.
Therefore, we affirm.
Background Facts and Proceedings
mother placed L.O. and D.O. in a guardianship with their
paternal aunt in 2014. The guardianship was established at
the suggestion of the mother's attorney as, according to
the mother, "she was told she could opt to voluntarily
place the children into a guardianship . . . allowing her to
get her children back if she turned her life around, or face
potential termination proceedings." The guardianship was
not opposed by any party, and the juvenile court case was
closed. The guardianship case was opened in the district
the establishment of the guardianship, the mother has made
progress. The district court found she has been "clean
and sober and employed." She also has stable housing and
a valid driver's license. The mother has paid child
support throughout the guardianship. However, at times during
the guardianship, the mother continued to have significant
issues. She was convicted of operating while intoxicated, and
driving while her license was suspended, had her parole and
work release revoked, and admitted to continued use of
marijuana for several months after the guardianship was
guardians have limited, and at times prohibited, contact
between the mother and her children. The mother's family
is allowed contact, but any contact between the mother and
the children has been closely scrutinized by the guardians.
mother petitioned for termination of the guardianship and
parenting time in February 2016. After trial, the district
court denied the termination of the guardianship but granted
limited visitation once a month. The mother now appeals.